COVID News: World Health Organization monitoring Mu variant

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- COVID hospitalizations are at a seven-month high, and the Biden administration is now moving forward on vaccine booster shots.

FDA advisors will meet on September 17 to consider Pfizer's booster shot application.

A new variant of the coronavirus is also raising concern.

The World Health Organization is monitoring the Mu variant, though more research is needed to determine if it is any more contagious.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



Majority of companies plan to have COVID-19 vaccine mandates, survey finds
Ready to travel to some major US cities? Better hold on to your vaccination card! Once a touchy subject in the private sector, a new survey indicates that most firms are now planning on having COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their workforce. The number of companies requiring workers to get the shot is expected to surge over the next several months, according to data released by Wednesday by Willis Towers Watson, a multinational advisory and insurance firm.

Over half of the employers surveyed (52%) said that by the fourth quarter of 2021, they could have one or more vaccine mandate requirements in the workplace. This ranges from requiring vaccinations for employees to access common areas (such as cafeterias) to requiring the jab for a subset of specific employees to requiring it for all employees. This is a major hike from the current 21% of firms that have some type of vaccine mandate in place for employees.

Pfizer vax safe for most allergy sufferers, study finds
Israeli researchers found most people who are particularly sensitive to allergies are safe to take Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. More than 97% of their high-risk patients had no immediate allergic reaction after the first dose of the vaccine, while 1% had a minor allergic response. Just 0.7% had a severe allergic response. After the second dose, 98% had no allergic reaction. -ABC News' Cherise Rudy

Inmate dies from COVID-19 after giving birth, sparking custody battle
The COVID-19 death of a Tennessee inmate who gave birth shortly before dying could lead to a bitter custody battle. This week, the Hamilton County's Sheriff's Office announced Morghan Elmore died from the virus. The baby is in state custody, but the family is fighting for their grandchild.

2 teachers at 1 central Texas middle school die of COVID-19 just days apart
A central Texas school district closed its schools until after the Labor Day holiday Tuesday after two teachers died last week of COVID-19. Connally Independent School District officials closed its five suburban Waco schools for the rest of the week after the Saturday COVID-19 death of Natalia Chansler, 41, a sixth grade social studies teacher at Connally Junior High School, said Assistant Superintendent Jill Bottelberghe. Chansler's death came days after David McCormick, 59, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Connally Junior High, also died of COVID-19, Bottelberghe said.

Florida to withhold school board members' salaries over COVID mask mandates
Florida's Department of Education announced on Monday that it would withhold school board members' salaries in Alachua and Broward counties because of their school mask mandates. Both counties' school districts said on Tuesday they still plan on requiring masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are exploring legal action. The department's announcement came after a circuit court judge in Florida ruled on Friday that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent executive order banning school mask mandates overstepped his authority. The Florida Department of Education did not mention the ruling in its announcement.

CDC recommends unvaccinated not to travel Labor Day weekend, vaccinated need to weigh the risk
Due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts.
"First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.

New online site launched to help people get child tax credit
The government has collaborated on a new internet site to help more Americans apply for and receive the expanded child tax credit, a monthly payment of as much as $300 per child that was part of the coronavirus relief package. GetCTC.org was developed by Code for America in collaboration with the White House and Treasury Department, according to a statement Wednesday. The goal is to provide a straight-forward, online form that can be accessible via mobile phones for people who are not legally obligated to file taxes to apply for the tax credit because they don't earn enough money.

What to know about delta and other COVID-19 variants of concern
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the COVID-19 delta variant as one of its "variants of concern" (VOCs) on June 15. According to the CDC, VOCs can be more contagious, more dangerous, less susceptible to available treatments or harder to detect. The current VOCs all have mutations in the virus's spike protein, which acts as a key to break into cells to infect them. And that's a potential concern because the spike protein from the original version of the virus is what scientists used to design all three authorized vaccines. It's also what monoclonal antibody treatments latch on to so the virus can't get into your cells, effectively "neutralizing" the threat. So far none of these mutations have changed the virus enough to undercut the vaccines. The uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, means the virus is mutating quickly. That's why many new variants are being discovered in places with the highest infection rates and large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, like the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

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